Welcome!

Government Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Gopala Krishna Behara, Raju Myadam

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Open Source Cloud: Blog Feed Post

Data as a Service Could Drastically Impact Success of SQL Injection Attacks

The question is whether that impact is positive (a reduction) or negative (an increase)

One of the biggest threats to data integrity is the introduction of malicious content via SQLi (SQL Injection) attacks. Traditional database access methods don’t provide a lot in the way of validating requests and like HTML the vagaries of SQL allow for myriad ways in which a statement can be constructed – and thus exploited.

These vagaries, of course, are one factor in the reason why SQLi continues to plague applications and sites driven by user generated content. Another factor is certainly the number of touch points in application code where attacks might slip through. With every new SQLi technique comes the need to update every one of those touch points and ensure they can properly defend against the new variation or technique.

But service enabling data sources changes the point of entry. It centralizes access down to a single point of contact.

Joe McKendrick notes in a recent blog on a related topic (data quality and SOA):

blockquote Ash [Informatica’s Ash Parikh], who has been warning the industry about the quality of data — or lack thereof — surging through SOA-based infrastructures for some time now, says SOA data services open up many new avenues for connecting SOA with enterprise data management. “It’s much more than just data access,” he points out. “It’s making sure the data that is delivered is of the greatest quality.” [emphasis added]

If we expand “quality” to include “clean, untainted, and free of malicious content” then we’re pretty much on the same page.


SECURITY AND TRADITIONAL DATA ACCESS MODELS


image

 

Using traditional methods of database access (JDBC/ODBC/ADO.NET/PHP ADAPTERS) every time a developer wants to access the database they must:

1. Obtain a connection to the database

2. Construct the appropriate query

3. Execute the query

One assumes, of course, that prior to constructing the query that any user-supplied input is validated and any potentially malicious content either stripped or outright rejected.

Most web applications today are data-driven, meaning they require a database in which to store and retrieve content. These applications – and that includes blogs, content management systems, news sites, and social networking sites – may contain multiple queries on every page, meaning there are multiple points at which malicious content may be introduced into the system. Add-on the possibility of an API through which content may be added and you’ve increased again the number of potential “holes” through which an SQLi attack might be executed.

Service-enablement, on the other hand, effectively reduces the number of potential entry points through which an attack may occur. It reduces the attack surface.

image

In a service-enabled database access scenario, the applications still make the same number of “connections” because each query is designed to perform a specific task , but instead of those queries going directly to the database they are actually made to a service interface instead. It is the service interface that then handles database connections, constructs the query, and executes the query on behalf of the client application.

There are two possible security outcomes to this scenario.

1. Overall security is improved. Because there are fewer interfaces to secure the process of validating and further detecting potentially malicious code will be more thorough. Reducing the number of places in which these checks must occur also reduces the potential to “miss” a touch point when implementing security processes. Protection against SQLi is shared by all applications, so if security at the interface is properly implemented it will be beneficial to all applications using the service.

2. Overall security is degraded. Because the data access service interfaces are shared across all applications, any vulnerabilities are shared by all services utilizing the interfaces. It is also possible that the use of service-enabled interfaces may introduce additional avenues of attack. Service-enablement via SOAP/HTTP brings with it all the security vulnerabilities associated with XML and SOAP. Service interfaces are also publicly accessible, so authentication and authorization are paramount to successfully securing such implementations. Weak or easily breakable authentication schemes can lead to compromise. If the services are publicly accessible this could be an even higher concern.


ENSURING THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOME


It certainly appears at first glance that perhaps the possibility of a negative outcome – because of the impact to multiple applications –outweighs the potential benefits of improving security. But the change in architecture affords the opportunity to provide additional security around the service (as well as scaling benefits that are not typically associated with databases) than can tip the scales of benefits versus risk to the side of improving security.

  1. A reduction in the number of entry points at which SQL queries are constructed from user input increase the resources that can be applied to the security of those interfaces. Fewer entry points affords a tighter focus on applying secure coding practices against the OWASP Top Ten. Testing against vulnerabilities, too, becomes easier and potentially more thorough.
  2. Adding a data service layer, usually enabled by HTTP, enables the leverage of existing technology to secure the messages and protocols between the application server and the data services. A web application firewall can provide additional security scans on the services in real time as well as provides protection against (un)intentional denial of service attacks against the service. XML-related capabilities in WAF solutions can also address the potential introduction of XML specific vulnerabilities to the architecture, as well as offering support for authentication and authorization and encryption/signing of requests.
  3. Moving data services to its own tier separates the tiers more completely and provides better agility for development. If a new vulnerability is discovered, for example, it need only be addressed in a limited, well-known set of services rather than across all applications that may be vulnerable. This can reduce the time to fix vulnerabilities or add new functionality to the data tier.

Service-enabling data sources is an architectural change that should not be executed upon lightly. It affects all other applications that rely on the data source, and introduces another layer into the architecture that may or may not make it more complex. Moving to such an architecture can be beneficial and can drastically improve security and decrease the likelihood of a successful SQLi attack. But if not entered into with the proper motivation to ensure the services are secured, tested, and protected against other security vulnerabilities it is possible that such an architecture could degrade your overall security posture and make it more likely that an attack will succeed.

Careful consideration regarding the dedication of resources and testing of data services is required before embarking on such an initiative. Collaboration between architecture, network, and development teams is required to design the service and its supporting application infrastructure in such a way as to ensure the change is a net positive for the entire organization.

Follow me on Twitter View Lori's profile on SlideShare friendfeed icon_facebook

AddThis Feed Button Bookmark and Share

Related blogs & articles:

 

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@ThingsExpo Stories
"Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...